Cumberland County officials expressed concern Monday that county residents are caught in the middle of a political fight between the state attorney general and the Trump administration over immigration enforcement.

Luciano Dominguez-Trejo, 28, of Vineland, but born in Mexico, was arrested Aug. 12 and charged with sexual assault of a minor, aggravated sexual assault, aggravated sexual contact, criminal sexual contact, endangering the welfare of a child and criminal restraint. He was released from the Cumberland County jail Aug. 23 despite U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement having asked that he remain held, according to the ICE website.

He remains at large, according to the agency.

The Cumberland County Department of Corrections conducted a review Thursday of Dominguez-Trejo’s custody file and its booking system and found the ICE detainer was incomplete and received after the inmate was released.

Jail Warden Richard Smith said he is tough on his staff when they are in the wrong, but he will fight for his officers when they’ve done their job, and in this instance they did just that.

“I realize ICE has been busy conducting raids and arresting immigrants, but what I won’t allow is for them not to have done their job and then attempt to place the blame on my department,” Smith said in a statement.

At issue is a directive from state Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal asking local law enforcement not to enter into cooperative agreements with ICE.

Freeholder Director Joe Derella said he wanted Grewal to come to Cumberland County to reassure residents they will not be collateral damage in the state’s fight against the federal government.

“The safety and welfare of our residents supersedes any political, ideological or bureaucratic debate,” Deputy Freeholder Director Darlene Barber said in a joint statement with Derella.

On Friday, Grewal ordered sheriffs in Cape May and Monmouth counties to stop providing help to ICE. The counties are the last two in the state that still have what are known as 287(g) agreements with the federal agency.

The 287(g) program allows local law enforcement officers to fulfill some ICE functions, acting as a “force multiplier” by helping the agency identify, arrest and serve warrants and detainers to “incarcerated foreign-born individuals,” according to the ICE website.

Grewal has said those agreements “undermine public trust without enhancing public safety.”

Derella and Barber said they need to be reassured that the circumstances of Dominguez-Trejo’s release were not the result of Grewal’s disagreement with the Trump administration.

“Disorganized policy always leads to disorganized results,” said Derella. “As the state attorney general continues to issue directives from Trenton, I want him to come down here and make sure he is not forgetting our residents, who will suffer due to any mistakes in his plans.”

Contact: 609-272-7202


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